The only home we have

On May 28, the Laudato Si’ Ministry was finally launched at my parish, the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist in Kuala Lumpur.

Jun 10, 2022

(Unsplash/Anh Vy)


                                 Faithfully Speaking Julie Lim Seet Yin

On May 28, the Laudato Si’ Ministry was finally launched at my parish, the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist in Kuala Lumpur. Parishioners who attended the launch were passionate about the environment and shared how they have made lifestyle changes that were eco-friendlier, such as reducing waste, planting vegetables and becoming vegetarian. In spite of many people making sustainable lifestyle choices, there are many others too who choose to be unfriendly towards the environment, and refuse to make a change.

Making a change
Whenever I share with people around me, on the importance of caring for the planet, and suggest eco-friendly tips such as bring their own food containers when doing take aways, many of them will roll their eyes. Over the weekend, a friend shared with me that one of her colleagues had asked why she takes the trouble to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle when it is more convenient to throwaway stuff, without having to think what will happen to the items after they have been discarded.

In reality, living an eco-friendly lifestyle is inconvenient and a hassle. Imagine always having to bring your own bag whenever you go grocery shopping, and always having to bring food containers, in case you suddenly want to ‘tapau’ food. For certain people, it would certainly be more convenient to do take aways using plastic containers, plastic utensils and plastic bags provided by the eatery, and then throw everything away once the food has been consumed. However, in spite of the inconvenience and hassle, why do certain people choose to live an eco-friendly lifestyle? Answer: Ecological conversion.

Ecological Conversion
Two incidents that happened in 2015 heightened my awareness on the deplorable state of our environment that caused me to reflect on its fragility. Coincidentally, 2015 was also the year when Pope Francis released his encyclical letter, Laudato Si’ mi Signore on care for our common home.

The first incident happened when I visited Pulau Tidung, an island located relatively close to Jakarta, capital city of Indonesia. When I arrived on the island by boat, I was happy to see clear waters and a small school of fish at the jetty. The next day, I rented a bicycle and cycled to the other side of the island, hoping to take a dip in the clear waters. When I arrived there, the waters were indeed clear, especially under the bright afternoon sun. But to my dismay, the whole beach was littered with plastic bottles, food wrappers and polystyrene containers. Imagine a beach with white sand and crystal-clear waters, but marred with rubbish covering the entire beach. No one would want to swim in such a condition. I was disappointed that an island as beautiful as Pulau Tidung did not have a proper waste management system.

The second incident was the haze of 2015 that many of us remember with contempt. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we kept ourselves safe from the virus by staying physically apart from each other, and by sanitising our hands regularly. However, in the case of the haze, nobody could escape from its clutches. We stayed indoors, closed all windows and doors and installed air purifiers. But yet, we could still smell the cinders. Each time I went to the office or to get groceries, my lungs fought for clean air under the N95 masks that we had to wear each time we come out into the open. Absolutely no outdoor sports were allowed during that time. The haze was one of the most miserable times as I felt suffocated, trapped and there was nothing I could do to escape from it.

The rubbish problem on Pulau Tidung and the haze of 2015 made me come to a deeper realisation that we are all part of the environment, and anything that effects the environment affects us all. Until and unless we develop a love and respect for God’s beautiful creation, we will not be moved to change our habits into sustainable lifestyle choices. In fact, we will continue with our throwaway culture, continue polluting the environment and continue creating waste.

Climate change a threat to humanity
We have been told that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity. Extreme weather changes have caused intense floods, heat waves, melting glaciers and rising sea levels that destroy our homes and wreak havoc on our livelihood. Here in Malaysia, we have already seen the effects of climate change during the devastating floods that hit different parts of the country in December last year. And we will continue to see more effects of climate change if we don’t have an ecological conversion and change our habits and lifestyle. If humankind wants to remain around for many more years, we all must play our part in caring for our common home – the only home we have.

(To be continued in my next column)

(Julie Lim Seet Yin believes that a satisfied life measured by one’s heart, mind and soul is better than a successful life measured by worldly yardsticks. She can be reached at: limseetyin@gmail.com)

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Elizabeth TingSooklingyap@gmail.com
Lovely article, and a good reminder that we need to do our part for the environment.